- Threat against John Donovan by officer leading Garda Ombudsman investigation of Shell/Irish Police Corruption allegations – Mr Johan Groenewald.
- Warning by Mr Groenewald about honesty of OSSL before he has even announced the result of his impartial investigation
- Denial by Mr Groenewald that he tore up OSSL statements
- As a result of revelations in the extraordinary email correspondence below, some Irish citizens may have reservations about his competence, impartiality, judgement, and plain common-sense to lead such an investigation
- Some may conclude that due to his disregard of evidence, he has destroyed the credibility of his findings before they have even been published.
By John Donovan
I sent an email earlier this week to Johan Groenewald, the officer in charge of the Garda Ombudsman (GSOC) investigation into OSSL allegations of Irish police corruption sponsored by Shell, relating to the controversial Corrib Gas Project.
I did not anticipate any response because Mr Groenewald had indicated through OSSL that he did not want to receive any emails from me.
Against expectations, he did respond and has since engaged in a flurry of email correspondence with me, the tone of which was initially constructive and polite, but deteriorated earlier today when he resorted to issuing a threat and then sent a parting email message, before blocking my emails so I could not reply.
Johan Groenewald commenced his investigation in October last year, which followed up on two previous internal investigations inside the Irish police force, the Garda.
I have published the extraordinary correspondence below.
As can be seen, he warned me in writing: “Don’t believe everything OSSL is telling you” thereby conveying his assessment that OSSL cannot be trusted.
His warning was prompted by allegations against him in relation to statements given to the Irish police by Desmond Kane and Neil Rooney of OSSL.
I do give Mr Groenewald due credit for answering my questions.
Most people in his position would not have answered at all.
It is shame that it all ended in acrimony.
Others can judge whether that was his fault or mine.
In any event, his ill-judged comments have preempted and undermined the pending publication of the findings of the investigation he led.
As can be seen, his so called “full investigation” has completely disregarded a treasure trove of evidence.
Mr Groewald has rubbished and disregarded over a hundred pages of evidence I supplied to him. Letters and emails involving various third parties including a solicitor and accountants, and an invoice to Shell for the booze supplied to the police. Dozens of individuals – all potential witnesses – are named in this vital evidence. It is all dismissed and disregarded by him as being “not evidence.” How peculiar. If he had investigated and found that anyone of these items was not authentic, the credibility of OSSL would have been destroyed at a stroke. Is it not his job to find out the truth about the OSSL allegations? His astonishing comments will inevitably lead some Irish citizens to conclude that another establishment cover-up is in the pipeline.
JOHN DONOVAN EMAIL TO JOHAN GROENEWALD 3 JUNE 2014 09:40
I know from your email dated 28 April 2014 that you do not consider me to have any role in your investigation and that I am not an interested party entitled to any information or updates from you.
I also noted the message that you do not want me to send any emails to you.
I find your attitude rather strange and counter-productive since I have been the party responsible for compiling and putting into the public domain vast amounts of relevant communications and correspondence about the matters you are supposedly investigating.
I use the word “supposedly” because I understand that you have not taken testimony from the relevant implicated senior Garda officers. Furthermore, OSSL allege that you have actually destroyed evidence – witness statements provided by OSSL directors? Surely this cannot be true?
Putting all of these contentious issues to one side, I do want to draw to your attention to and place on record a transcript of the public discussion (transmitted live globally from the recent Royal Dutch Shell PLC AGM), between Mr Desmond Kane and the two top people at RDS, its CEO Ben van Beurden and Chairman, Jorma Ollila.
Note that the line of defence by Mr Van Beurden was the same one taken by Shell throughout i.e. there is no evidence to support OSSL allegations.
As you know, OSSL claim that Shell deliberately destroyed all transactional evidence as part of a cover-up.
However, there is still no denial from Shell that the alleged events did in fact take place.
That is something no one at Shell, including Ben van Beurden and Jorma Ollila at the AGM, has been willing to state.
Nor has Shell been prepared to say that the OSSL alcohol invoice is fake.
If it was fake, Shell would have called in the police long ago.
It is fair to assume from the cessation of the email barrage from OSSL means that the two sides are indeed in discussion as was proposed and publicly agreed at the AGM.
Why would Shell even agree to meet with a company demanding payment for alcohol delivered to the Garda if the allegations are without foundation?
How could there possibly be any prospect of a “happy conclusion” as promised by Jorma Ollila?
You would have thought Shell top brass would be incandescent at the sustained barrage of emails for over a year making false allegations against Shell and the toxic subject being raised by these OSSL villains at two successive AGM’s when Shell is totally innocent of all charges. Of course that is not the case.
None of it makes any sense unless there is substance to the allegations.
There is no need to acknowledge this email, which I will put into the public domain at some point (together with any reply, if you do choose to comment).
BTW, should an Ombudsman investigation take this long? It commenced in October last year, 9 months ago.
RESPONSE FROM JOHAN GROENEWALD 4 JUNE 2014 13.34
Don’t believe everything OSSL is telling you. A full investigation was carried out and all parties except OSSL cooperated with my investigation.
OSSL failed to cooperate with my investigation and failed to produce a single piece of evidence.
Outcome of investigation to follow in early course.
JOHN DONOVAN REPLY 4 June 2014 18.06
Dear Mr Groenewald
I really do appreciate your candid response.
You did exactly what I would do if someone sent me a communication containing what I considered or knew to be inaccurate information.
It would have been even more helpful if you had pointed out specifically what OSSL has alleged that you consider or know to be false.
What a shame that other parties who have received communications mentioning related OSSL allegations apparently did not do as you have to immediately take issue with stated facts, in this instance by placing on record a warning about relying on the accuracy of information provided by OSSL.
When OSSL sent an email to Michael Crothers, the CEO of Shell EP Ireland mentioning the alcohol supplied to the Garda, why did Mr Crothers not take issue with this reference if it was false? He responded 22 minutes later without making any comment on the alcohol issue. There are many other examples of the written allegations being ignored. Not one party receiving such information wrote back and said this is fiction. Perhaps there is a pile of such disclaimers of which I am unaware, but I doubt it.
Hence I remain baffled that any party involved would not immediately challenge any serious allegations, which in fact are fictitious.
What about the OSSL invoice to Shell EP Ireland. Is that not an item of evidence – even though prepared long after the event, it does exist and is either authentic of fictitious? The single subject of the invoice is the procurement and delivery of the Shell sponsored alcohol to the Garda. If in fact no alcohol was purchased and delivered, then that invoice is not genuine, yet it was sent to Shell demanding payment.
If it is fictitious and the related OSSL allegations false, I would have thought that arrests and charges against OSSL directors would be in order given the huge amount of time and expense incurred during three Irish Police Authority investigations and two Shell internal investigations.
And why on earth would executives at the very top of Royal Dutch Shell PLC arrange discussions in May 2013 and May 2014 with the objective of Shell reaching a happy conclusion with the very individuals who have showered the company with highly damaging allegations in recent years and have on one possible scenario, created a fictitious invoice to support the false allegations and demand for payment?
Surely either Shell or OSSL should end up in the dock?
RESPONSE FROM JOHAN GROENEWALD 4 JUNE 2014 09:05
Dear Mr Donovan,
As previous stated OSSL failed to cooperate with my investigation and refused to make a statement to GSOC.
I refer to the Garda Siochana Act 2005 and to Section 110. I did consider it but the information was not supplied directly to the GSOC.
I am confident that OSSL will issue you a copy of my outcome letter.
JOHN DONOVAN REPLY 5 June 2014 11:24
Dear Mr Groenewald
You said “don’t believe everything OSSL is telling you.”
I guess that is better than if you had said – don’t believe anything OSSL says.
When you say you did consider “it”, I assume this is a reference to the alcohol invoice to Shell?
This monumentally important item of evidence has been referred to many times in the mainstream news media e.g.
Garda Ombudsman to investigate Shell ‘booze bribes’ allegations: thejournal.ie 22 October 2013
“OSSL invoiced SEPIL for the alleged deliveries of alcohol to gardaí, said SEPIL.” (Shell E&P Ireland Limited)
Michael Crothers, the Managing Director of SEPIL referred directly to the invoice in his letter dated 28 May 2013 to Clare Daly, TD.
This is what he said:
“OSSl subsequently invoiced Shell for the alleged Garda alcohol deliveries. The invoice was generated on August 24, 2012 and mailed to us on that day, for deliveries they claim were made in 2007.”
His letter, which Clare Daly can confirm is authentic, provides absolute proof that Shell did receive the invoice.
It is therefore a physical piece of evidence twice acknowledged by Shell, which is of crucial significance.
If the information contained in the invoice is false, then you surely have a case against OSSL for an attempted scam of some kind, which has resulted in a horrendous waste of police time etc.
If the information is genuine, then it provides confirmation of the allegations made against Shell by OSSL.
It has to be one or the other and must surely ultimately result in action being taken against Shell or OSSL.
RESPONSE FROM JOHAN GROENEWALD 5 JUNE 2014 13:33
I was referring to the destruction of evidence. They keep saying their statement was torn up. Not true, they never made a statement to me.
I am not referring to any other evidence and information received except of your email referring to the statement.
JOHN DONOVAN REPLY 5 June 2014 15:34
Appreciate the clarification.
JOHN DONOVAN EMAIL TO JOHAN GROENEWALD 5 June 2014 20:42
Dear Mr Groenewald
I am trying to understand the situation in the light of the subsequent emails from OSSL.
You seem to be at complete loggerheads about alleged destruction of evidence.
Are you saying that you never tore up ANY OSSL statements?
I understand your point that they never made a statement to you. Hence it could not have been torn up.
However, did you tear up/destroy statements OSSL had supplied to Superintendent Thomas Murphy?
If so, are there any copies still in existence?
Is there an audio or filmed record of what transpired in the relevant interview?
RESPONSE FROM JOHAN GROENEWALD 5 JUNE 2014 23:37
OSSL made statements to Supt. Murphy and the original signed statements are in his possession. GSOC was supplied with typed copies of the statements and not signed.
I had made a photocopy of Mr Kane’s statements with written notes and questions for clarification. That copy was torn and left in the file and Mr Kane knows this. It was not his original statement or a copy to be used as evidence.
You read my initial emails to OSSL and my intentions were clear with my investigation strategy.
During my meeting with OSSL on 12 December the investigation strategy was explained and their cooperation was requested. It was agreed that they will collect all the evidence and that we will meet again for their statements to GSOC and the handover of evidence.
On 15 December OSSL stated in writing that they will not meet with me or handover any evidence and do not wish to assist in my investigation.
JOHN DONOVAN REPLY 6 June 2014 09:06
Dear Mr Groenewald
It is good of you to reply with further clarification. All due credit to you for that.
Setting aside the question of how the unsigned statements in your possession were torn, I would like to comment on the general question of evidence.
You say that OSSL has not handed over any evidence.
I am not a policeman, a trained investigator or a lawyer, so I can only rely on common-sense.
It is plain from what you have said that signed statements from OSSL do exist and are held by a senior Garda officer. That surely is highly material evidence.
Furthermore, I have personally supplied you with a file containing evidence in the form of material correspondence involving various parties, a solicitor, accountants, Shell, the Garda etc. and a purported invoice. Over a 100 pages of evidence. If, in the course of your inquiries, you discovered that any single item was manufactured/fake, that would give grounds for a potential action against OSSL for a variety of serious charges including fraud, forgery, perjury and demanding money under false pretences. Their credibility would be completely destroyed.
The fact is that you do have evidence in your possession. Lots of it. It was not handed over by OSSL directly to you, but you do have it.
If the allegations are false, why hasn’t Shell issued libel proceedings? The same applies to the senior Garda officers named by OSSL as being implicated?
Why would Shell entertain further discussions with fraudsters making unfounded allegations?
Shell is in discussions with OSSL to bring about a “happy conclusion”.
That fact is on the public record, aired globally on a live webcast stream. I am sure you have read the transcript. I have an audio file if you would like to add it to your evidence.
I cannot conceive that the GSOC will try to maintain a position that there is no evidence, when this is plainly not the case.
My fear is that there will eventually be a GSOC inquiry into this inquiry.
RESPONSE FROM JOHAN GROENEWALD 6 JUNE 2014 09:20
I can not speak for Shell or the Gardai in relation to possible offences committed by OSSL. GSOC’s role was to establish any Garda misbehaviour and I can state that a full investigation was carried out even without the cooperation of OSSL.
Emails with pictures etc. is not evidence so you are right you are not an investigator and none of that material was of any assistance to me.
JOHN DONOVAN REPLY 6 June 2014 10:26
Just shows how little I know. The extensive non evidence included the invoice giving details of the alcohol, the Garda stations to which it was delivered and actually named the Garda officers involved. As I have previously pointed out, Shell has acknowledged that it received the invoice. I can only surmise that rules of evidence are different in Ireland as emails are universally accepted as evidence in criminal and civil proceedings in the UK, the USA, etc. They were accepted in evidence in four high court actions I brought against Shell. The whole Shell reserves fraud *famously unravelled because of incriminating emails involving the then Shell chairman Sir Philip Watts and the then head of Shell Exploration and Production, Mr Walter van de Vijver. Countless other cases have involved email evidence. They have proved to be an invaluable new source of evidence as people are often more careless and candid in what they say in emails, particularly when rattled, compared with correspondence by letter. But according to you, emails do not qualify as evidence in Ireland in the context of GSOC investigations.
*See: Memos expose Shell’s years of lying
OSSL say that during a meeting with you on 12 December they offered you the evidence file I compiled, but you said that you already had it in your possession.
We now have it on record from the officer leading the investigation – you – that your “full investigation” disregarded the extensive evidence I supplied, which included the purported invoice.
Only reinforces the fear I have already expressed.
RESPONSE FROM JOHAN GROENEWALD 6 JUNE 2014 10:53
Stick to conspiracy theories and leave the work to professionals.
JOHN DONOVAN REPLY 6 June 2014 11:19
I had started drafting an article yesterday but because you had answered questions when you could have ducked them and have maintained your composure until now, I had decided to await any further development. However, in view of the emails this morning I think it is proper to put the entire extraordinary correspondence into the public domain and will do so later today.
If you want to supply your credentials showing your experience as an investigative professional, I will happily publish it all along with the article. I make this suggestion since I cannot found anything on the Internet about your professional credentials other than reference to your current position and that information is very limited. Please feel free to point me in the right direction.
RESPONSE FROM JOHAN GROENEWALD 6 JUNE 2014 11:56
I have nothing to hide and my investigation and final report is factual.
My response to your emails is an honest account with OSSL’s cooperation with my investigation. And I do hope you will publish all the emails to and from OSSL and GSOC so that the public can have their own opinion and not pick and chose what to publish like OSSL.
Be very careful in your accusations. I am accountable to GSOC and do not have to explain myself to you.
JOHN DONOVAN REPLY 6 June 2014 12:51
It gets better. You are now resorting to a threat. Shell could give you a good indication of my reaction to threats.
You have boasted about being a professional but have not taken up my invitation, which still stands, to provide your credentials so my readers can be duly impressed.
I am not responsible for OSSL emails nor do I support their email bombardment tactics on Shell, or any other party.
I have no advance notice or input into what they say in their emails, which are not always prime examples of clarity and restraint. I have never met or even spoken to the gentlemen in question.
However, I do believe that there is substance to their allegations, as should be plain from my earlier comments.
No one has compelled you to explain yourself to me. You have done that voluntarily and will have to live with any consequences.
You have already by implication rubbished the OSSL allegations as conspiracy theory, so you may as well get on and publish your report.
I will write again, as I have done previously, to every TD and on this occasion draw their attention to this correspondence so they can make their own judgment about your competence, impartiality and plain common-sense to lead such an investigation.
If you want to first refer this correspondence to your superiors to see if it would be wise to make any retraction, then please let me know within the next couple of hours and I would in those circumstances not take any further action until I hear further from you, provided it was within a few days.
PARTING SHOT FROM JOHAN GROENEWALD 6 JUNE 2014 13:04
My superiors are aware and again to be clear. This email correspondence is between me and you and again you are making accusations that are referring to OSSL. At no time did I refer to OSSL as a conspiracy theory, it was directed at you.
I report on my investigation to GSOC and is factual.
Please feel free to write to GSOC if you wish to submit a complaint about me.
Your email account is now blocked so no need to reply.
As can be seen he says that the correspondence is between him and me.
However, he seems to have forgotten about the last sentence in my opening email to him.
This is what it said…
There is no need to acknowledge this email, which I will put into the public domain at some point (together with any reply, if you do choose to comment).
He did choose to comment.
Furthermore, he continued the correspondence even after I mentioned that I had drafted an article.
As to blocking my emails, was there ever a better example of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted?
COMMENT RECEIVED FROM MAURA HARRINGTON, SPOKESPERSON FOR SHELL TO SEA CAMPAIGN
Solid as a rock, as usual!
Thank you for your lateral approach to ANOTHER ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem’ – it goes on and bloody on with no end in sight.
Thanks to your efforts however, you seem to have single-handedly scuppered any claims of validity/integrity which will, inevitably, be trotted out by the usual suspects when the Groenwash report issues.
Good on you!!
All the best, Maura
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